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The man who jumped from the Empire State Building’s 86th floor observation deck Tuesday has been identified as 21 year-old, Austin, TX native Cameron Dabaghi, a junior at Yale majoring in East Asian Studies.
A 10 foot-high spiked fence encircles that observation deck. The AP reports that there were 7 other people on the 86th floor terrace at the time, and one person tried to talk Dabaghi out of it as he climbed over the fence.
Apparently he left a suicide note in his dorm room saying he was sorry, and that he would either be jumping from the George Washington Bridge or the Empire State Building.
The fact that Dabaghi left a note, traveled from New Haven to New York, and picked the tallest building in the city that isn’t the easiest place to jump from–only about 30 suicides have occurred from the Empire State Building since its opening in 1931–suggests to me that he had given a lot of thought to his final act. I’m assuming he took the Metro-North train into New York–the easiest way to get from Yale to the city–which gave him two-plus hours to contemplate what he was about to do. Did he think about turning back? Sometimes when there’s time between the suicidal impulse and the act itself, that’s enough to save a person’s life. In this case, it wasn’t.
[HuffPo: Cameron Dabaghi ID'd As Empire State Building Jumper: Yale Student Commits Suicide From Empire State Building Observation Deck]
[Houston Chronicle: Yale student plunged from Empire State Building]
[NY Times Magazine: The Urge to End It All]
Celebrity death vultures have been busy the last week picking over the bones of 20 year-old, South Korean model Daul Kim, who was found hanged in her Paris apartment in an apparent suicide November 19, which may explain why her blog, I Like to Fork Myself–scoured by reporters as though it were a suicide note (before the alleged existence of an actual suicide note was revealed)–has since been switched to invite-only and is no longer available for public
I, too, have been guilty of participating in this scavenger hunt, the search for the why behind her death. A year-and-a-half ago, I wrote about Daul Kim and the things I liked about her: her goofy-cool factor, her bangs, and her blog, which I described as a “zany, irreverent diary of her fashism experiences.” When I read of her death, my first impulse was to return to the site and figure out what I had missed. I mean, zany and irreverent? Were these words one could really use to describe someone who had taken her own life? What dark thoughts and creeping shadows had I failed to see on the edges?
with about twelve other series
By now, you may have noticed that I’m a true sucker for the train wreck that is VH1 reality programming. Their collaboration with producers 51 minds has yielded a hamster wheel of sublebrity drama–a cycle that bests even that of the Bachelor franchise–in which drunk biatches can become self-righteous boyfriend bait faster than you can say, “Did this all really begin with Flava Flav and Brigitte Nielson hooking up?”
Yes, it’s trash. But do you really blame me? Life, as you’re well aware, is really fucking tough if you take a moment to smell not only the roses, but the feces tornadoes that are our country’s democratic conversation or the world’s ability to feed itself. A person needs an escape. Sometimes it’s heroin, sometimes it’s Rummikub. Sometimes it’s Bret Michaels banging a really gross, crazy chick.
So of course I was first in line to watch my most loathed character ever, Megan Hauserman, televise her gold digging on Megan Wants A Millionaire. The brain cells I lost during the pilot were more than made up for by the gleeful groans I expressed while watching oogly, self-important “millionaires” (Does $1.1 million ‘net worth’ really count? Not that I’m number crunching) vie for the affections of a weak-voiced, leggy blonde whose face will certainly go within the next five years.
As the first few episodes rolled out, it seemed Megan was actually reality gold: far more savvy than your average trophy wife, with a complete lack of soul. In fact, it seemed almost organic to set the match-up process of money-making douchebag with money-grubbing tramp in a TV elimination process, since it’s all fuckery and performance anyway.
I was enthralled. And though she rubbed lips with both grubby old dudes and closeted trust fund baby, I held high hopes that by Episode 13, she’d realize that her perfect match was a cocky Canadian playa named Ryan, who caught her early attention by telling Megan he wouldn’t make her sign a prenup (game, set…). Three shows along, and I felt Ryan was in it to win it.
Then, suddenly, it got real dark.
Ryan, who apparently moved on to the 3rd season of I Love Money and married Playboy model Fiore shortly after getting eliminated by Hauserman (the marriage was short-lived), was thrust into a completely different kind of spotlight when his ex-wife was found dead and mutilated in an Orange County dumpster nearly two weeks ago. After fleeing on foot, he was upgraded from “person of interest” to person charged with murder. Yesterday, he himself was discovered dead, hung from a coat rack in a motel room. And as it turns out, Jenkins had a record of domestic violence, for assaulting a girlfriend in 2005 (shame on the producers for their shoddy background checks).
VH1 has since canceled and erased all trace of Megan Wants a Millionaire and I Love Money 3 from their website and program listings.
And I find myself now reeling with both fascination and strange pangs of guilt for watching him in the first place. It’s natural when watching reality to get to know, begin to identify with, and develop loose affection for the contestants. So watching this kind of terrible saga unfold feels, for some reason, personal. Why must I feel that way? It’s horrific.
Perhaps the reality is that reality television isn’t just an escape. The players may be trashy, the music cues may be funny, but the people are real. And sometimes, all too real.
Asians love being the best. But here’s one superlative we don’t love–Asian-American women are most likely to think about and attempt suicide, more than all other Americans, according to a new University of Washington study.
The study, published in the current issue of the Archives of Suicide Research, found that 15.93 percent of U.S.-born Asian-American women have contemplated suicide in their lifetime, as opposed to 13.5 percent for all Americans, and that suicide attempts among us were also higher than the general population, at 6.29 percent vs. 4.6 percent. It did not attempt to explain why Asian-American women have more suicidal tendencies, however:
“It is unclear why Asian-Americans who were born in the United States have higher rates of thinking about and attempting suicide,” said Aileen Duldulao, lead researcher of the study.
But if you’re an Asian-American woman who has struggled with depression her whole life like I have, it’s not unclear to you, is it? You don’t need this study, published in 2007, to tell you that we own some of the highest rates of depression and suicide because we’re pushed to achieve. Or this one, published in 2008, to tell you that Asian-Americans are less likely than any other group to seek treatment for mental health disorders. You know this already. You know it in your bones. Personally, not scientifically.
You know it because, growing up, there was no such thing as “depression.” Because feeling blue always had something to do with you “not trying hard enough.” And feeling like you wanted to yell at somebody or start crying in class over nothing was the result of “not having enough self-control.” And wanting to feel better simply involved “doing better.” How could you be unhappy when your father hugged you? (His father beat him with a stick.) How could you feel sad when you had your own bedroom, your own phone, call-waiting for Christ’s sake? (Your mother had her ancestral home stolen from her, pillaged, plundered, sold for scrap. Top that.) What is this “therapy”? What are these “drugs”? If you really think you have problems, could you please keep quiet about them? Better not to advertise your own failure. Best to keep silent, lock up those feelings in shame, and, while you’re at it, lose a few pounds, your moonface is starting to look fat.
I don’t really know how to end this post without sounding like a PSA. I’ve been in therapy for 12 years, and I’ve been medicated for all kinds of things–anxiety, insomnia, depression. At times, I think my family has viewed me as “the crazy one” because I’ve been open with them and the rest of the world about how I’m dealing with my depression. And you know what? I don’t give a fuck. On the subject of mental health, I not only talk, I tend to ramble, because keeping silent and being ashamed of it, that’s really the crazy thing.
There was some discussion at DISGRASIAN HQ this week over the actions of the Bridge Pusher, the dude in Guangdong province who pushed a suicidal man from a bridge (onto a partially-inflated, emergency air cushion).
The entire incident was captured on video:
Yes, the suicidal man, Chen Fuchao, who became despondent when he fell into heavy debt, survived with minor injuries. Sure, he had been holding up traffic for five hours. Maybe, you could even argue that the Bridge Pusher, Lai Jiansheng, 66, was simply getting shit done, shit that the police would’ve eventually done themselves.
But what the Bridge Pusher told Xinhua after the incident puts it in a far more chilling context:
“I pushed him off because jumpers like Chen are very selfish. Their action violates a lot of public interest,” Lai said. “They do not really dare to kill themselves.“
Does it sound to you like Lai kinda wanted the suicidal guy to off himself? And that he thought Chen was a pussy for not going through with it? What, we wonder, would have happened if Chen had been contemplating suicide on some bridge in the middle of nowhere, and Lai just happened to walk by? Would he have “dared” him to hurry up and kill himself already? We shudder to think.
The NYT editors must have read our letter!
After: Just the kitsch without all of that crazy racial slur baggage
Now if only Michelle Malkin will start taking advice from our letters and off herself. Then we’ll be in great shape.
Haiyang Zhu–the Chinese grad student at Virginia Tech allegedly responsible for decapitating new friend Xin Yang with a kitchen knife on Wednesday–apparently showed signs of frustration unrelated to the incident earlier this month.
[A] Chinese-language blog was written earlier this month under the name Haiyang Zhu, and displaying the same photo of Zhu by authorities in Virginia. The author expressed frustration over stock losses and other problems in the blog, dated Jan. 7.
‘Big stock losses. Recently I’ve been so frustrated I think only of killing someone or committing suicide,’ the posting reads.
We are numb with disbelief, seeing that he chose to employ the former rather than the latter–and brokenhearted either way.
Alarming and, yet, not totally surprising news from the Mother Ship: “Suicides in China: 2.3 Times the Global Rate.” A couple crazy findings from a study conducted in 2002 in China:
Suicide is the highest ranking cause of death in the age group of 15 to 34.
Suicides in China make up 30% of all suicides in the world (1 million each year).
Seventy percent of those who commit suicide or attempt suicide never seek help with their problems.
Sad stuff. I hope China gets its shit together in the 21st c. and begins working on massive health care reform that makes mental health treatment socially acceptable and deals with depression, anxiety, and the shame people feel having these disorders.
That said, when Diana told me about the new Survivor: Ka-China cast, which includes “a grave digger, a chicken farmer (whose name is ‘Chicken’), a Christian talk radio host, a professional wrestler,” and that they’re reading Sun Tzu’s The Art of War (taking a cue from Mike Ovitz about twenty years too late), I couldn’t help but wish that one of these losers gets the China bug.
Survivor: Ka-China airs September 20 at 8 pm. Set your TiVos!
CNN.com reported today on a scary trend in Asian-American women.
Hang tough. We love you.